Mar 3, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden's last-ditch effort to steal Sanders' thunder in California

Outside the Biden campaign's office in Los Angeles. Photo: Stef Kight/Axios

LOS ANGELES — Joe Biden made a last-minute push across California on Super Tuesday, hitting Oakland and dispatching his wife to San Diego before they end the day in Los Angeles — home to the only advertised Biden campaign field office in the largest state in the country.

Why it matters: While Biden is hoping to build a comeback on his blowout win in South Carolina, nearly one-third of the delegates up for grabs in tonight's Super Tuesday contests vote here in California. Bernie Sanders, who narrowly lost the state to Hillary Clinton in 2016, has been dominating the state's polls.

Biden doesn't have to win California. But he does need to tap a significant enough chunk of the state's trove of delegates to keep Sanders from running away with the nomination.

  • "One of the biggest misconceptions of 2020 is that California is Sanders' territory," a Biden campaign official in California told Axios.
  • The official said Sanders probably will do well in the state but insisted that Biden's events have had strong and consistent support.
  • Many California voters have waited to cast their ballots, as Politico reported.

Biden's campaign website lists just one brick-and-mortar field office in California, compared with four in Texas. (The campaign official said there are several other "staging locations" or unofficial offices in locations around the state.) The official California field office sits strategically in Latino-dominated East Los Angeles.

  • Down the street, mostly Spanish-speaking voters walked into the Centro Estrella center to cast votes for the Democratic candidate of their choice.

What to watch: Hispanics or Latinos make up the largest racial-ethnic group in California — 39% of the state population, a higher percentage statewide than non-Hispanic whites. This is the first year Hispanic voters make up the largest ethnic-racial minority group of the electorate.

  • But a recent state poll found Biden winning just 15% of Hispanic, Democratic-likely voters in California — compared to 42% for Sanders. Latinos also propelled Sanders to his decisive victory in Nevada.

The big picture: Sanders has campaigned often in California, drawing large crowds. His campaign claims to have knocked on 1 million doors in the state.

  • Bloomberg dumped more ad dollars there than any other state as of early February and got the endorsement of former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. He campaigned throughout California while other candidates were focused on Iowa.
  • California hasn't been as big of a focus for Biden. Yet, influential California Democrats including Sen. Dianne Feinstein, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn have endorsed him.

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Sanders projected to win California Democratic primary

Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders and his wife Jane O'Meara Sanders walk onstage during his campaign rally at the Los Angeles Convention Center on March 1, 2020. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders is projected to win the California Democratic primary, the crown jewel of Super Tuesday with 415 delegates at stake, according to AP.

The big picture: Sanders was heavily favored to win California, despite losing in the 2016 primary to Hillary Clinton by about 7 points. Super Tuesday was largely dominated up until the California results by Joe Biden, who won sweeping victories across the South.

Biden reborn with a massive Super Tuesday comeback

Biden speaks in Los Angeles Tuesday night. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Super Tuesday made Joe Biden the 77-year-old Comeback Kid, clipping Bernie Sanders' wings and transforming the Democratic primary into a two-man race.

Why it matters: Biden's campaign was broke and all but dead until he won South Carolina on Saturday. The revival that unfolded across 14 states last night was built not only on strong support from African Americans but also a consolidation of white, establishment Democrats around the former vice president.

Sanders assesses path forward after more big Biden wins

Joe Biden speaks in Philadelphia after more crucial wins against Bernie Sanders. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

The big question for Bernie Sanders after Tuesday night's losses: Is there a path back to the Democratic nomination, or is Joe Biden's trajectory unstoppable?

The state of play: Notably, Sanders did not comment on the results. Pressure ramped up on him to concede and Biden carefully began to turn his remarks to the general election after extending his delegate lead in "Super Tuesday 2," with wins in Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri and Idaho.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Mar 11, 2020 - Politics & Policy